Do you think the people in the pews are complaining?
Priests in the Archdiocese of Santa Fe have been warned that they could lose the faculty to preach if they give homilies longer than five minutes. The archdiocese told CNA the restriction is part of the archdiocesan response to the coronavirus pandemic.
In the memo, sent July 31, archdiocesan vicar general Fr. Glennon Jones said that the archdiocesan chancery had “received reports of some homilies going on for well over the 5-minute limit set by the Archbishop.”
“This not only increases exposure time [of the coronavirus] to others, but increases the discomfiture of many congregants, to the point of some not attending Mass because of it.”
“If such homilies continue, [Archbishop John Wester] will consider severer [sic] actions for subject clergy,” Jones wrote, “up to and including possible suspension of the faculty to preach.”
The warning was part of a series of “periodic communications” from the chancery regarding pastoral and sacramental practice in the Santa Fe archdiocese during the coronavirus pandemic.
Since May 16-17, churches in the archdiocese have been allowed to reopen for the public celebration of Mass in line with phase one of the governor’s reopening guidelines, allowing for attendance set at 10% of building capacity.
Under the guidelines posted on the archdiocesan website, various restrictions on the celebration of the liturgy remain in place, including a prohibition on congregants singing.
The time limit on homilies of five minutes referenced in the July 31 memo appears to have been preceded by a relaxation of the posted guidelines, which state that homilies be “very brief,” and “three minutes max.”
No word on whether it applies, also, to deacons. (What do you think?)
Footnote: when we resumed having public Mass at our parish, the church was closed for renovations and we were forced to move everyone into the non-air conditioned school auditorium. In July, that wasn’t fun. We did everything we could to trim the liturgy and move it along, and that included keeping homilies brief. (The administrator complained that my six-minute sermon on the first Saturday night was too long, so I pared it down to four minutes when I delivered it Sunday.) I found, over time, that keeping homilies short was a good exercise. I imagine the people sitting on folding chairs — all wearing masks and fanning themselves with bulletins — appreciated it, as well.